You’ve heard it before: “We’re on time and on budget, every time!”
You won’t hear this from one of our team members. In fact, when in conversations with prospective clients, we like to break the ice by mentioning the opposite – that we’re not perfect and we don’t claim to be.
It’s simply the truth. We are about as perfect as anyone else, which is to say not perfect. Do we have decades upon decades of experience? Yes. Do we have good systems in place? Yes. There are plenty of great things we can talk about regarding Suntech, but in the end execution is left to human beings. Which leads me to reason #1 why we don’t promise to be on time and on budget:
Reason 1: Promising perfection assumes construction happens in a vacuum. The general contractor on a commercial project is simply one of the parties involved. You have an owner and architect and municipal officials. The GC only controls one of those variables, and the other players have a drastic impact on how the project goes. For example, if the architect drew sloppy plans, the project will take longer and will probably be more expensive. If a fire marshal decides to make an example out of us, they can alter the course of the job. The point is this: construction is an activity comprised of multiple imperfect people working together with a common goal. Speaking of which…
Reason 2: Promising perfection compromises teamwork. As I just stated, there are many parties involved in building something and all parties need to work together if the project is to be successful. For the GC to make a hubristic promise is to make a statement to the owner that we need no help or cooperation – or, in other words, we got this. The truth is, of course, that the GC needs the cooperation and assistance of all parties to succeed.
Reason 3: Overpromising and underdelivering fails to serve the owner. No matter what promises are made by contractors, construction is an imperfect science. The real professionals will make fewer and smaller mistakes – and they will rectify them quickly – but mistakes will be made. If the owner lacks experience in building and relies upon unrealistic dates and unrealistic budget numbers, their business will be harmed. They might have employees standing around with no building to operate from or inventory which cannot be stored. Realistic schedules and realistic budgets respect the client and allow them to plan appropriately.
When vetting a contractor, focus on one word: trust. Trust their experience. Trust their character. Trust their numbers. If you cannot trust them, don’t hire them. Low trust environments are slow, expensive, and painful – especially in construction. There are good GCs out there standing ready to build for you, but you need to look past the outrageous claims to the criteria that really matters.